(Mirror Daily, United States) Scientists are thrilled because of their latest discovery. It concerns ancient species of animals, and it is something they have never thought they would accomplish: they have recently found proof that Zenkerella, an ancient species of squirrel, still exists and it lives in tropical areas. So they invite us to meet Zenkerella.
Three dead Zenkerella individuals prove the fact that this species can be considered a living fossil. The specimens have been discovered on the Bioko Island.
Zenkerella is a rodent, just like other squirrels nowadays. Its’ evolution is not impressive because there aren’t many changes in its organism or appearance to show it. It has a bushy tail, but also scales at its root. Specialists don’t know how many of them are out there in the wild, but instead they are pleased with having found these specimens.
So far, scientists have been gathering information on Zenkerella only by studying fossils such as their incomplete skeletons. Having tracked the animals is a huge step forward, and it will surely lead to a more in-depth analysis of the species. Specialists plan to sequence the genome of the ancient squirrel. They also think that Zenkerella can be related to Anomalure, a family of rodents with seven species living in Africa – most of them don’t fly, although they have a similar membrane to that of flying squirrels
Main researcher Erik Seiffert is both surprised and enthusiastic at the discovery, which gives him the hope that there are many other things to find out about the natural world, and that they can elucidate more mysteries. He declared for Washington Post:
“It really is one of those pretty incredible examples of discovery and a sign of the kinds of discoveries that can still be made.”
There are other living fossils cases, beside Zenkerella: a pygmy right whale was discovered in 2012, a “fury” species of mollusk was discovered in 2015, red colobus monkeys have also been spotted. All these facts make scientist believe that Mother Nature has much more of such gifts for them. Secluding these rare species might not be an advantage for them, as scientists can protect them too and help them spread and have vast and healthy populations.
An article describing Zenkerella and containing more details on the discovery was published on August 16, in PeerJ (journal).
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia
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